Back in Beijing

Well, the title says it all. Time seems to fly. Been doing so much that there was hardly time to sit back and relax, let alone write. But now I have a spare moment.

For those who thought after my last report that I hated it here, I don’t. Well maybe I do, a little bit, but I’m still having a great time. It’s just that everything takes soo much effort, everything takes so much time and energy when really it shouldn’t. You take a taxi from Shanghai airport to the center of town and the meter shows it was 31.5km ride, when you know it should be 15km to 18km. Tapping the meter and grunting gives you a 15% discount but it’s still too much. But I don’t mind paying 10 euro for a taxi ride. I mind being taken for a ride and I mind sitting in a traffic jam for an extra 30 minutes just because this, this, [censored] of a cab driver is trying to scam me. I mind the ‘art students’ that want to take you to a ‘tea ceremony’ that costs hundreds of euro and hawkers that quintuple their prices if you’re white – it goes on and on. It’s as if someone is trying to scam you every single thing you do and it’s not funny. And it’s not just scams either. If you can’t communicate with people around you, even the simplest things become difficult. “I want to do laundry. Wash these clothes. Wash. Washing machine. Do the laundry. LAUN-DRY.” And then you get taken to the room where they store your bags. Sigh.

Shanghai, though, is easily mainland China’s most liveable city, with monumental buildings, promenades, parks and museums. But we were there for only a day before we headed to Tunxi – recently renamed Huang Shan Shi or Huang Shan City, Huang Shan being the mountains that Avatar’s are based on. And there’s no denying it: the scenery is stunning, with almost vertical granite peaks piercing the clouds, mist rolling over the mountain ridges. But this has made it one of the most visited tourist destinations in China. And this shows. Everyone and his mother visits Huang Shan. Literally. And to make sure mother can actually get around the mountain, there are stone paths, almost perfectly even, and stairs – actual stairs. I can’t help but feel I’m a bit in Disney Land, also because of the crowds. ‘Maddeningly crowded,’ the Lonely Planet calls it. Let’s just say ‘.mMaddeningly crowded’ has taken on a whole different meaning. I’ll upload a short film when I get home so you know what I’m talking about.

And then from Tunxi, back to Beijing. And I finally walked the Wall.

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